Today we have guest blogger CDMAN writing about his experiences with the Second Generation Notebook Series 9 (13-inch).
This is the conclusion for the most detailed review available for Series 9. Read on for a detailed performance review, from display to touchpad and booting speed.
PLS Panel Applied for Wide Viewing Angle
One of the strengths of Series 9 is that the display can be laid much further backward. Fully extended, as shown in the picture above, it appears to be about 150 degrees, though this was not measured exactly. In addition to this increased range of motion, the display uses a PLS panel, which has higher color transparency than IPS, securing a much greater top-bottom viewing angle which is definitely lacking in most laptops. From actual usage, I felt that I could still see the screen from almost 180 degrees.
Just the display is presumed to be quite expensive. By the way, the colors did appear a little bit too dark during video playback, and a solution is described below.
The wide viewing angle provided by PLS panels may be just a minor plus. Its strength lies in that you can see the same screen from any angle, and the high-clarity panel used here expresses nearly true colors. Usually, the monitors with PLS panels are in the higher price bracket. Originally I couldn’t care less about the viewing angle, but from actual usage outdoors or indoors, you find the glare-type TN panels with bad viewing angles need to have the display angle adjusted frequently, but Samsung new Series 9 NT900X3B-A74 is just fine without any adjustments. Being a non-glare panel, it adds comfort during document tasks with loads of texts.
This is a shot from the side. As you can see, images are still visible on the screen. It would be a great advantage if many are watching a movie together on one laptop.
The best part was the excellent top/bottom viewing angle. In case of a TN panel, you can’t help the colors changing when viewing from above, but it is not so with this model. And non-glare is another strength, as glare panel is good for a clearer color expression. It is usually the case that excessive reflection causes severe fatigue to the eye in outdoor environments or with excessive light reflection, but this non-glare panel does not suffer from any of that.
At the top of the monitor you can find a web cam. If you look closely, there are a group of dots to the left (indicated by the yellow arrow) which lights up to let you know that the web cam is running.
Essential Functions Here and There in Keyboard
There are a lot of interesting features in the keyboard too. It features a full-size keyboard which is very comfortable for typing. I actually did blogging with this product, and it was great for high-speed typing.
Function keys are an essential part of using a laptop, allowing for easy control in tasks such as powering the touchpad on or off, brightness adjustment, sound volume adjustment, or mute. And it features an F1 key easy setting which allows you to adjust all settings at once. I will cover this in more detail below.
The keyboard features blue LED lighting that indicates the status for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, function key lock button, caps lock and such. It’s very intuitive to use.
There are green backlights for the keyboard for typing in the dark. I actually often used the laptop in bed before going to sleep, and sometimes thought it would be nice if I could see the keyboard – even more so when I use it lying on my side.
The backlights weren’t too bright to project through the keyboard gap. At full brightness, the letters on the keys were legible, and the keyboard gap was barely visible, not disturbing at all for long-term usage at dark nights.
I removed a key cap. The light was coming from below overall.
I removed the key cap for the button that toggles Wi-Fi / Bluetooth. You can see that the green light is coming from the overall bottom part and the indicator for toggle is lighted in blue.
The length of the key cap is a little bit over 15mm. The width was measured to be certainly over 15mm at 15.5mm. It looked like a square to me, but measurements show that the width is slightly greater than the length.
Touchpad with Accurate Recognition, as Convenient as a Mouse
One of the most satisfactory features of Series 9 NT900X3B-A74 was the touchpad. I have long thought that a mouse is much more comfortable than a touchpad for Windows laptops, but for this model, the touchpad was surprisingly comfortable and very useful. I could scroll in Internet Explorer accurately and quickly. The scroll acceleration feature makes it very easy to scroll through a long page.
The large width of the touchpad is also great as it’s more comfortable to use. And although no buttons are shown, you can tap on left bottom for left click and right bottom for right click.
The color of the touchpad is slightly different from the rest of the body. This is just my guess, but the upper panel of the touchpad is made of acrylic so that it wouldn’t be discolored or such from long-term use. That was my conclusion after attempting some harsh rubbing.
The Elan touchpad helps to make it a little bit easier to use the touchpad. The inertial scrolling allows a more comfortable control when controlling a long scroll on a webpage. The previous page/next page with three fingers also came in handy. You can check some of these features of the touchpad in the video below.
Heat Performance during Video Playback?
During playback of high-res video encoded in H264, the fan would run even in Silent Mode. I measured the temperature in this state. I also discovered that if the video is not very high in resolution, the fan would not run in an environment with room temperature at about 27 degrees. We will examine this below.
While playing a high-res video, the keyboard and palm plate maintained a temperature lower than I thought. It’s probably because of two heat pipes and the clock control through Silent Mode. And the aluminum casing creates an extra advantage for cooling. For desktops, aluminum cases do not really help with cooling as the heat source is too far from the case. But for laptops, the heat source is very close to the aluminum at the bottom or even attached. That is, the entire bottom panel made of aluminum can allow heat to disperse easily.
9.8 Seconds of Booting Time
The record for the boot speed of Samsung new Series 9 NT900X3B-A74 was 9.8 seconds. This is how long it takes from hitting the power button to showing the Windows screen. I measured the boot speed from hitting the power button to the opening of the notepad in the startup. Take note that in the video, I hit the stop button a little late.
Actually there were a few tweaks to increase the boot speed. The static programs that sit on the memory and startup program-related files are not read during booting, and are to be read after booting. This can be easily configured in Easy Setting under booting optimization. When you first turn on the laptop, you can get your hands on this setting. I tested with no GUI booting unchecked.
Power On: hit the power button
End: time it takes for notepad in startup to open
Power Off: start with hitting shut off
End: screen goes off
It takes about 10~11 seconds to boot and be fully ready, and about 4 seconds on average to shut off. Check the video clip.
This is the CPU-Z result. i7-2637M ultra-low-power CPU was used, which is faster than the i5 model. Two cooling fans and two heat pipes are also a great improvement in heat processing.
The initial partition setting for the 256GB it’s equipped with was examined. 216GB is allocated to the C drive. It’s interesting that 4GB are allocated for the hibernation partition, which is the size of RAM. The free space in the C drive was 191GB; quite a lot of space was available thanks to 256GB drive.
I checked the SSD performance with CrystalDiskMark (random). The performance was quite high at Seq. Read 437.5 MB/sec, Write 267.5 MB/sec, and especially 4K QD32 showed 296.8 MB/sec read performance, proving to be appropriate for OS.
I examined the processor performance. This is the result of Super PI 1M test. The power option was in high performance. The result of 14.524s is pretty good for an ultra-low-power CPU. This system uses i7-2637M 1.7Ghz (Turbo Booster available) and the local memory is DDR3 4GB.
Windows Experience Index was fine for CPU at 6.8, and the main HDD scored the highest. And HD3000 certainly dragged the graphics score a little. Of course it has no issue with running Aero at all.
Series 9, Customized Settings
In Easy Setting, you can make various optimizations. All the commands that had to be done in separate programs are all in one place. You can configure the Samsung Fast Boot to shorten booting time.
This turns on the Fast Start mode of BIOS. At this point, the USB behavior before booting may be restricted. The bottom option changes the Windows start animation to simple mode. This enables a faster booting.
You can configure the starting point of the programs that run upon Windows startup. That is, you can have them read after booting. Choose all of them. This requires restarting the computer.
You can utilize keyboard backlight and user account control, and Intel Rapid Start technology, which configures a hibernation partition in the SSD so that you can wake up the laptop to be ready for work in just 2 seconds.
Having the power setting at Samsung Optimal Mode, it automatically goes into power-saving mode when running on battery, and high-performance when plugged in. Eco Mode restricts the use of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for maximal power-saving. For your reference, you can improve the battery time by turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth if you are just working on documents. This setting can be turned on/off by Fn key without needing to go on Easy Setting.
You can adjust the colors option at the bottom of the display settings. The screen automatically grows a little dark when you play a movie, which is because the movie mode is selected by default here. If you find the dark colors awkward, choose the standard mode for the original colors. When you play the video, it automatically applies the settings, and it returns to normal upon closing the video.
There are many other Samsung software programs, but this one allows you to install and manage drivers and other programs more systematically.
Basically, it comes with Samsung Recovery Solution. This is an actual full recovery in progress, which normally takes about 10 minutes.
Concluding the Most Detailed Review for Series 9…
I found the Series 9 NT900X3B-A74 to get better and better the more I used it. The battery life is long enough to be comfortable, and design, sturdiness, and any other elements are quite flawless. The noise was personally the most satisfactory. Beyond low-noise, it could be maintained virtually noiselessly. It can be summarized that it performs better than the ultrathin that I’m using, but still the fan doesn’t run.
Considering that the price is dropping and the product specifications are high enough to begin with, it appears a worthy investment. Of course, I expect the price to drop a little further with the release of Ivy Bridger mobile processor. The biggest difference between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge is the microarchitecture size and performance of embedded graphics core, but the performance is already quite powerful as is, so it would still make a pretty good choice.
A very detailed Series 9 reviews:
③ Function and Performance Test
*The content on the blog is based on individual opinion and does not represent the position, strategy, or opinions of Samsung Electronics.